Donald E. Westlake, 1933-2008

westlake1Donald E. Westlake, mystery writer, died on New Year’s Eve, 2008. There are obituaries, interviews and reminiscences all over the place, but luckily for us they have been collected and collated by Sarah Weinmann at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind in her usual thorough way. Westlake wrote 100 novels under several different names, and was also a screenwriter, most famously adapting Jim Thompson’s great novel The Grifters in 1990. My favourites are the novels written as Richard Stark. Start with The Hunter (1962) which became the movie Point Blank. The writing is perfectly paced and as tough as it needs to be.

This wonderful photograph by Laurie Roberts of Westlake at his desk comes from the excellent book Behind the Mysteries: Top Mystery Writers Interviewed by Stuart Kaminsky and Photographed by Laurie Roberts. The Smith Corona typewriter is something of a Westlake trademark and seems to be more of a collaborator than a tool. Westlake was a typewriter collector.

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